Care and Feeding of Rosewood | LsL Instruments

Many of our little darlings have rosewood fingerboards and since these, like all rosewood boards are not finished, they can be prone to drying out and or warping. Rosewood by nature, contains a lot of oil and that's one reason it can be used as a fingerboard without a finish. But as time goes by, it dries out. Here at the factory we apply several coats of linseed oil to our rosewood before fretting to further stabilize them. Since there is a finish on the necks but not on the rosewood fingerboards this creates an imbalance in the neck. Moisture can more easily be absorbed or evaporated from the unfinished rosewood than it can the maple neck. Therefore a periodic application of linseed,tung or danish oil will help keep a rosewood equipped neck more stable. Old rosewood fingerboards have acquired years of finger oil, dirt and beer so are actually more stable than a new neck would be. So playing them with your greasy mits actually makes them better. But they could still use some TLC every now and then.

Before going any further, this is important: many of these oils are spontaneously combustible under the right conditions. So any rags, paper towels or steel wool that you use to apply these oils must be soaked in water for several days and allowed to dry completely before disposing. If you don't allow these to dry completely they could start a fire in your trash can. I have seen this happen several times in my career and it's not pretty. The drying process creates heat and if they are buried in a trash can that heat can't escape and will start a fire. 

So deal with oily rags correctly!

Back to the task....

You should apply oil to rosewood fingerboards about every six months or a year, when changing strings. Simply use a rag to apply a thin coating of oil to the fingerboard. Let it sit for about a half-hour so and wipe off any excess. Don't let the oil dry on the back of the neck as it will become sticky. Leaving puddles on the fingerboard will do the same so don't leave any. 

If your neck is extremely dirty, you can use #0000 steel wool to apply the oil. But, this will leave a lot of steel wool pieces on the fingerboard and possibly on your pickups. That's a bad thing so be careful and it's best to mask off the pickups first. You can put a rag over them too. Then after wiping off any excess oil go over the fingerboard with a magnet to pick up any remaining steel wool. 

Applying oil to your beautiful, rosewood fingerboard now and then will keep it looking and feeling great. It will also help keep your neck stable and more able to weather the weather. 

And that's all I have to say about that......



Written by Lance Lerman — March 12, 2013